The LEAP clinic is a highly collaborative partnership involving the University's special education department, the public school, and parents. This article describes the LEAP clinic and highlights benefits for teachers, parents, and most importantly, children and youth.
Michael, a first grader, is learning how to segment, blend, and manipulate sounds. Susan, a fourth grader, is practicing multiplying double-digit numbers. MiLing, a 10th grader, is mastering study skills she can apply to her general education classes. These and about 50 other children and young adults from grades K-12 in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin area recently participated in the Learning Enhancement And Progression (LEAP) clinic, a university-community collaborative partnership.
The LEAP clinic is an eight-week summer program with instruction provided by graduate and select undergraduate students majoring in special education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Originally designed to provide after school tutorial assistance to a small group of children, the clinic has since evolved into an intensive summer remedial experience. Teachers in the LEAP clinic register for a graduate or undergraduate eight-week practicum.
The first week involves training for clinic teachers to learn and review research-based practices in special education instruction and assessment. During this orientation week, the two university professors who co-coordinate the clinic support undergraduate and graduate students as they practice Direct Instruction techniques; review the scope and sequence of skills in reading, spelling, written language, and math; reflect upon short case studies or complete activities related to instruction and informal assessment; critique videotapes on classroom management, Direct Instruction, and social skills instruction; and learn various informal assessment probes used for progress monitoring.
Depending on the needs of the children enrolled in the clinic and the professional goals of the teachers, the teachers may be grouped in order to meet specific training needs. For example, the secondary teachers may meet separately on occasion during the training week to learn study skills, review ways to provide age and grade appropriate remedial instruction to older students, and become better acquainted with secondary curricula. The last week is reserved for clinic teachers to conduct an individualized exit conference with their supervisor and to write their final reports that are mailed to parents. During this week, clinic teachers meet individually with their assigned supervisor to review their summer progress, reflect upon goals, discuss students they taught, and receive feedback on the first draft of their assessment reports.
The clinic operates instructionally during the middle six weeks from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM Monday through Thursday. These two instructional hours are divided into three periods during which each student receives individual or small group instruction in two or three prioritized areas of need. Typically, each child receives reading instruction for at least one of these periods. Spelling, written language, mathematics, study skills, and social skills are also taught. All students participate in a daily math facts program (Crawford, 1998) designed to increase automaticity with addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts. During its 20 year existence, over 800 local children from nearly 550 families in 10 communities have received assistance from the LEAP clinic. The success and growth of the clinic is largely dependent upon the close working relationship among the partners--the university, the local school district, and families. Each partner in this relationship plays a unique and significant role.
The University: The Instructional Leader
The university assumes the instructional leadership role by providing clinic teachers, supervisors, and curriculum materials. …